The embryos each have four ducts, the subsequent fate of which is of great significance in the eventual anatomical differences between men and women.
Two ducts closely related to the developing urinary system are called mesonephric, or wolffian, ducts. In males each mesonephric duct becomes differentiated into four related structures: a duct of the epididymis , a ductus deferens, an ejaculatory duct , and a seminal vesicle.
In females the mesonephric ducts are largely suppressed. Differentiation also occurs in the primitive external genitalia, which in males become the penis and scrotum and in females the vulva the clitoris , labia, and vestibule of the vagina. At birth the organs appropriate to each sex have developed and are in their adult positions but are not functioning.
Various abnormalities can occur during development of sex organs in embryos, leading to hermaphroditism , pseudohermaphroditism , and other chromosomally induced conditions.
11 Surprising Facts About the Reproductive System
During childhood until puberty there is steady growth in all reproductive organs and a gradual development of activity. Puberty marks the onset of increased activity in the sex glands and the steady development of secondary sexual characteristics. In males at puberty the testes enlarge and become active, the external genitalia enlarge, and the capacity to ejaculate develops. Marked changes in height and weight occur as hormonal secretion from the testes increases.
The larynx , or voice box, enlarges, with resultant deepening of the voice. Certain features in the skeleton, as seen in the pelvic bones and skull, become accentuated. The hair in the armpits and the pubic hair becomes abundant and thicker. Facial hair develops, as well as hair on the chest, abdomen, and limbs. Hair at the temples recedes.
Skin glands become more active, especially apocrine glands a type of sweat gland that is found in the armpits and groin and around the anus.
Reproductive Systems in Males and Females
In females at puberty, the external genitalia enlarge and the uterus commences its periodic activity with menstruation. The breasts develop, and there is a deposition of body fat in accordance with the usual contours of the mature female. Growth of axillary armpit and pubic hair is more abundant, and the hair becomes thicker.
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. Human reproductive system. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Introduction Development of the reproductive organs The male reproductive system External genitalia The penis The scrotum The testes Structures of the sperm canal Accessory organs The prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and bulbourethral glands Ejaculatory ducts The female reproductive system External genitalia Internal structures The vagina The uterus Uterine structure The endometrium in the menstrual cycle Blood supply and innervation The fallopian tubes The ovaries Ovarian structure Ovulation Blood supply and innervation.
THE FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM
Written By: Richard J. See Article History. This phase is marked in part by the release of eggs female sex cells in the female ovary and the formation of sperm male sex cells in the male testes. Reproduction can take place only when a sperm unites with an egg, a process called fertilization. The testes are the pair of male reproductive glands located in the scrotum, a skin-covered sac that hangs from the groin.
Each testis produces sperm cells, while the testes as a whole secrete testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone—a type of molecule that sends signals to spots remote from its point of origin to induce specific effects on the activities of other cells. Testosterone is associated with masculinity, though females secrete it in much smaller quantities as well. In males, testosterone secretion is critical to the development of secondary sexual characteristics—those unique traits that mark a person as a male or female, though they do not occur in the sexual organs themselves.
A deepened voice is an example of a male secondary sex characteristic evident at puberty. Sperm cells produced in the testes move to the epididymis, a coiled tube at the base of the penis where they are stored and matured. During ejaculation, or the ejection of sperm from the penis during orgasm, sperm travel from the epididymis through a long tube called the vas deferens to the urethra. This single tube, which extends from the bladder to the tip of the penis, is also the means by which urine passes out of the body.
The reproductive system contains the largest and smallest human cells
Liquid secretions from various glands combine with sperm itself a gooey substance that is barely liquid to form the semen, or seminal fluid. Ejaculated semen may contain as many as million sperm. The female system is much more complicated than the male version and has a role in all stages of reproduction. Whereas the male system primarily delivers semen to the vagina, the female system plays a critical part from fertilization until long after the birth of offspring. It produces ova, or eggs, receives sperm from the penis, houses and provides nutrients to the developing zygote fertilized egg and later the embryo and fetus, gives birth to offspring, and feeds those offspring after birth.
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The visible part of the female reproductive system, which, of course, is not even half of the entire picture, includes the opening of the vagina and the external genital organs, or vulva. The vagina, a muscular tube extending from the uterus to the outside of the body, is the receptacle for sperm ejaculated during sexual intercourse and also forms part of the birth canal that will be used later, when the offspring comes to term.
The external genital organs, known collectively as the vulva, include the labia, folds of skin on both sides of the openings to the vagina and urethra; the clitoris, a small, sensitive organ that is comparable to the male penis inasmuch as it swells when stimulated; and the mons pubis, a mound of fatty tissue above the clitoris.
Eggs are produced in the ovaries, oval-shaped organs in the groin that also generate sex hormones. At birth, a female's ovaries contain hundreds of thousands of undeveloped eggs, each surrounded by a group of cells to form a follicle, or sac; however, only about follicles reach full maturity. During puberty the action of hormones causes several follicles to develop each month. Normally, just one follicle fully matures, rupturing and releasing an ovum through the ovary wall in a process called ovulation. The mature egg enters one of the paired fallopian tubes, where it may be fertilized by a sperm and move on to the uterus to develop into a fetus.